WATERLOO — Republicans will retain the Iowa Senate seat that was held by former majority leader Bill Dix, a month after a scandal led to his resignation.
Annette Sweeney of Alden defeated Democrat Tracy Freese of Dike in the Senate District 25 race with about 56 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s special election.
Sweeney, a former Iowa House member, got 4,776 votes compared to 3,786 for Freese, a small-business owner. Iowa Senate District 25 includes all of Grundy and Hardin counties as well as portions of Butler and Story counties.
“Talk about a whirlwind,” Sweeney said when reached by phone about the short timespan leading up to the election.
“It was a team effort,” she added. “It wasn’t just one person and I’m just totally amazed on all the work that everyone has done.
“That just sums it up. I’m just overwhelmed by how many volunteers we had.”
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district nearly 2-to-1. There are 16,285 Republicans voters registered compared to 8,256 Democrats. There are also 15,106 registered voters affiliated with no party.
Sweeney said a victory in a special election like this depends a lot on the get-out-the-vote effort.
“Just make sure that you get out the vote, it’s not guaranteed,” she said. “I am just thrilled on the count that we had for the special election.”
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Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, resigned his seat March 12 following release of a video posted by the online political blog Iowa Starting Line in which he appears to be kissing a lobbyist at a Des Moines bar.
Sweeney, 60, and her husband are farmers near Alden. She served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 2009 to 2012. More recently, she was appointed by the Trump administration to be Iowa’s U.S. Department of Agriculture state rural development director. She left the position upon announcing her candidacy.
Freese, a Clinton native who moved to Dike more than a decade ago, owns an online marketing company and also works as an estate planner. The 35-year-old is chairwoman of the Grundy County Democratic Central Committee.
Sweeney topped Freese among three of the four counties’ voters. Freese came out ahead in Story County, where 1,440 voters cast ballots for her compared to 1,148 for the Republican.
Sweeney won 1,795 votes in Hardin County with 1,120 going to Freese. Another 1,268 voted for her Grundy County compared to 774 for the Democrat. And in Butler County, Sweeney received 565 votes to 452 for Freese.
Despite the election, the seat will be on the ballot again for the Nov. 6 general election. Dix was at the end of his term when he resigned.
Both candidates in the special election are running in their respective parties’ June 5 primary. Sweeney will face Chad Buss of Parkersburg, whom she defeated overwhelmingly in a nominating convention last month. Freese won’t face a challenger.
“I’ll be on the ballot three times this year, which is absolutely incredible,” said Sweeney, assuming she is the victor in the primary. “It’s kind of wild for Iowa history, this quick turnaround.”